ANGEL COLON

I had been wanting to pursue change for quite some time before the tragedy at Pulse happened. I can now say I know what true happiness is, what true love is, and most importantly, what true peace is.
— Angel Colon

My life before I pursued change in my sexuality was what I would call "a hot mess.”  Lonely, empty, unhappy, shackled, and unloved were the ways I felt for eight years after I came out. The more unhappy I was, the worse it got. My life was so consumed by homosexuality, drugs and liquor that I wouldn’t give the time of day to my family. Having been raised in a strong Christian home, I felt a deep conflict between what I had known to be good and right, and the life I was living. 

I woke up hungover on June 11th, 2016, after a night of drinking and drug use. That evening my friends and I went to Pulse, a club in Orlando. At 2:02 a.m. everything changed. While saying our goodbyes, we heard a big POP! I dropped my drink, realizing the sounds were gunshots. As we ran, I was shot several times and  fell down, pulling my friends with me. Struggling to stand back up, I felt a foot step behind my left leg and heard a loud snap which resulted in my left femur breaking. I couldn’t move or even feel my legs, so I covered my head and stayed still. What followed was chaos all around me. I started comforting the lady lying next to me, whispering to her to pretend to be dead. I looked at her and heard a loud shot. As her eyes shut, I couldn’t believe I just witnessed her death. I was terrified I would be next. Feeling the shooter behind me, I uttered what I thought would be my last prayer. Even in that terrible moment, the peace and hope of God flooded me. I heard a loud shot and felt my body jump up and down. I thought I was dead. After several minutes, I started hearing cop radios. I raised my hands, calling out: “Please come get me! I’m alive!’’

I had been wanting to pursue change for quite some time before the tragedy at Pulse happened. I missed my faith, and I missed feeling true peace and happiness. I had started praying for God to do something to change my life. As I recovered, the support of my pastors became a lifeline. I found that I could talk to them about anything without judgment or rejection and receive counsel and help. Since they earned my trust, I've been able to embrace crucial help and resources to aid me in rediscovering my life and faith. I’m still recovering but very grateful I am here today. My life now is a complete 180 from the life I had before.

Feeling empty and lonely inside was slowly destroying me, but I can now say I know what true happiness is, what true love is, and most importantly what true peace is.

FloridaBree Stevens